To manage abundance, is to farm in the Chaco Paraguay
“The Chaco is what we have defined as a very attractive area to invest, for simplicity, for the potential and for a set of variables that make it incomparable,” said Rodrigo Artagaveytia, director of Everdem; Who almost two decades ago decided to try their luck in the Chaco.
In a very entertaining and very interesting talk, this Uruguayan agricultural producer, with an entrepreneurial spirit and business vision, shared his experience in Paraguay with ForoRural, a country that does not stop surprising those who decide to bet on it.
“18 years ago the situation was very different. A large part of the territory was a virgin field. Nobody went to Paraguay, because they didn’t believe in it. Little by little, it began a process of transformation of its farmland that was rapidly evolving and today has a very important percentage already developed or developing.
Why Paraguay? How was the route?
-I went to Paraguay, first, by a family bond; My father had a field in Corrientes, my uncle in Mato Grosso. I always heard that the tropics, with their hot areas, were spectacular. I was able to get to know Paraguay through the Rural Association of Uruguay (ARU) and the exhibitions and I liked it very much: I felt it was a country of opportunities. I established ties with very good people and understood that it was possible, that it was no madness and that Paraguay was not what people believed.
In Paraguay, there are formal and informal people and serious and not so serious people, as in any country. So, if you surround yourself with the right people, everything works. There’s no mystery. If you work with a good notary, if you get go advice from a good agronomist and if you connect with the people who are working seriously, you are working just like in another country. That’s what I saw and it was what I liked and tried. That’s what helped me get out and take people there. I lived it and I felt it.
How were your first years in Paraguay?
The first few years were hard because everything that seemed easy was not so easy. The big mistake I made was underestimating my lack of knowledge of the country. It was difficult for me, not because I was, but because I did not prepare myself for a tremendous challenge. I went to war with a toothpick. I actually had a lot more than a toothpick, but I was missing something very important, meeting people and having a team, like the one we have today. At the time I knew how easy it was, but I did not know how to assess my shortcomings to face what was coming. I got into big projects: without equipment and without knowing people. Not knowing who’s Who. Who’s good and who’s bad. Which contractors meet my expectations and which did not. Then there was a lot of trial and error.
But I did have always by my side, and that was right, it’s my family. I arrived with my wife Inés and my four young children. A challenge and a support. It was the strongest team I’ve ever had. Carry forward a project like this knowing that by your side there is a woman who always goes forward and always supports you is priceless. The story would have been different if they hadn’t been.
At work we had some failures and many difficulties, but always knowing that at the end of the day the sunset was going to be spectacular. Always knowing that ‘ the positive ‘ is there and that with perseverance and work, the good comes.
The country is positive. The Chaco is positive. Land, productivity, meat production and people. Government and markets are positive. It all adds up and makes it a whole that’s worth it.
Over time I managed to form a team and the company was developing and growing in different work areas. Convinced of what was the Chaco and its potential we began to bring people, we were taking firm and constructive steps, with the security that gave us for more. There is so much ahead and what can be done that today, after 18 years, I would say that this is just beginning. That’s what I’m passionate about every day.
What is it like to produce today in Paraguay?
— The reality of Paraguay that we met is one, and that of modern Paraguay – which is not just the Chaco – is another. Day by day the country grows because every time it works better. In our field grows meat production, export grows, increase markets and see five-year-old steers which is now normal.
Paraguay is going well agriculturally, it is becoming more efficient, it manages better the pasture, there are more prepared people, it works better with genetics, there is more insemination in a fixed time, the bulls that are used come from programs of improvement. All this is a package that goes farther and farther. So modern Paraguay works and produces as in any other country.
It is very important to know, understand and respect their idiosyncrasies. Things are the way they are for good reason. Once you understand the idiosyncrasy, the people, and the reason for everything, it’s much easier. It is easier to live, coexist and share when you understand the essence of the country.
What is the impression of an Uruguayan who knows the Chaco for the first time?
— The famous phrase that defines an Uruguayan who arrives for the first time to the Chaco, an area where pastures abound, is: ‘ Che, here is a lack of cattle. This is missing numbers. ‘ But not really, because in the Paraguayan lands you manage abundance. In Uruguay, it is common to spend the winters with the bare fields and administer the scarcity by added feed. In the Chaco, the fields are handled with a lot of grass and it has to be so. The Chaqueño does not know if their animals are two or four teeth, or if they are down or up, not boquean, do not look at the teeth. The cow does not wear the tooth because they live eating abundance.
This is mainly due to the management, but the great production of these pastures is given by the climate, the type of soils and their excessive fertility; They are very high yield pastures. In our country A prairie produces 8,000 kilos of dry matter, in Paraguay, any pasture produces between 14 and 16,000 kilos.
As a businessman, how is Paraguay to invest?
Investing in Paraguay is very simple, much more than people think. But, like every business, you have to know how to do it.
— The numbers are predictable, budgets are predictable, work schemes are simple because the variables at stake are not so many. As for the markets, Paraguay has the same stability, or instability, that is in Uruguay. It is a country absolutely inserted in the globalized world: free export and market for many markets. The refrigeration industry has grown a lot, both in its capacity of slaughter and in quality. It works just like in Uruguay. Speaking of cattle ranching, as far as the purchase of wintering and fattening is concerned, it is similar to Uruguay.
You start with much cheaper soils and much higher productivity. The truth is that production costs are much lower and this is what ends up being a big difference.
I repeat something that I was told many years ago: “What steps a cow has to be worth the same in different parts of the world”; That is, the cow in the Chaco Pisa a productive hectare that is worth 1,700 dollars and produces 160 kilos of meat per hectare, while in Florida (Uruguay), the cow steps a field of 3,000 dollars and produces 90 kilos per hectare. So it’s worth almost double and produces half. The difference is three to four times. This huge price gap between Uruguay and Paraguay is meaningless but it will shrink.
Ten years ago people went to Paraguay to buy cheap land. Today you will also buy land at a lower value, but do the numbers, know the production numbers and business is more tempting.
When it comes to the transfer of money from one country to another, is there any kind of restriction or limit?
— Paraguay is a free, absolutely free country. There is no kind of restriction in that regard. All you have to do is prove the origin of the money, like anywhere. You can move the money from there to here without any inconvenience.
Are there still land offerings in Paraguay?
There is a land of all types, virgin lands, others more developed, fields with more and less infrastructure, stays in operation, everything, the offer is large and varied.
There are still more than two million hectares to develop, respecting environmental laws, which demand to leave 50% of the forests or scrub standing.
Currently, what are the reference prices for a hectare?
-those who buy a virgin hectare in Paraguay today will find fields from 280 USD to 600 USD, depending on the type of land, logistics, area, among other variants. The same production area is between 800 USD and 1,500 USD a total hectare. However, it should be taken into account that half ( uncut forest) does not produce, so in fact, the productive hectare is worth twice as much approximately 1,600 dollars.
Considering the type of entrepreneurship and investment, no doubt the confidence is essential, how does the customer experience Everdem?
No doubt that in this type of ventures trust is everything. From a good financial project with the highest accuracy in numbers.
The order and the transparency with which we manage contribute to strengthen it. This is present in each of the areas of work, because in Everdem, in addition to the purchase and sale of fields, we perform an integral service. We take care of the administration and exploitation of the fields, so it is not necessary for the client to go to Paraguay. We solve everything, absolutely everything.
After so many years and journey in Paraguay, what would you say is the specialty of Everdem?
In the run of these years, many Paraguayan lands went from being virgins to being developed fields. Today the market has a significant percentage of this type of estate, others that are developed half and others are not developed. The reality is that whoever buys a virgin land and transforms it into a productive field has a very large price differential, but “how to” is the great challenge; And in this we are specialists, I would say more, we are experts and not dependent on one, we are a great team. We are that team that I would have liked to have 18 years ago when I came. Today we have it, and that’s our differential. We have a lot of experience and we know how and besides, we do it well.
Source: Foro Rural
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